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First Generation and/or Low-Income Student Advising

OPAL First Gen and/or Low-Income (FGLI) Student Advising is dedicated to enhancing the Dartmouth experience through supporting and challenging the campus community around issues pertinent to the First Gen and/or Low-Income student experience.

OPAL offers personal and academic guidance, advice, and support including, but not limited to, social adjustment concerns, academic and classroom issues, bias-related incidents, interpersonal relationships, leadership development opportunities, financial aid concerns, community and cultural programming.

Community Information

Who does First Gen and Low-Income refer to?

We use the term First Gen to describe students who are part of the first generation in their family to attend a four-year college as well as students who share similar backgrounds or experiences. This might include students who are the first in their family to attend a private college, those who are estranged from family members who are college graduates, and students who are first in their family to attend college in the United States.

Students from low-income families typically need substantial financial assistance to be able to attend college. Government agencies define students as low-income using various methods. Sometimes, low-income refers to an individual whose family is in the bottom 20 percent of all family incomes. Other times, it refers an individual whose family's taxable income for the preceding year did not exceed 125%-150% of the poverty level. But, these numbers only tell us so much. From our standpoint, students may choose to self-identify as low-income if they experience financial barriers to taking full advantage of the Dartmouth experience.

Do I have to identify as First Gen and/or Low-Income to get involved with the FGLI community?

The only program limited to First Gen-identified students is the mentoring program. For all other programs and events, we welcome anyone who is interested in engaging with the topic, regardless of identity. While OPAL has a strong focus on providing resources and services for First Gen and/or Low-Income students at Dartmouth, we also realize that to best fulfill our mission we must engage and serve all members of our campus community. Learn how to connect with our office through one of our many communities or programs.

Advisor Information

Assistant Dean & Advisor to First Gen and/or Low-Income Students

Rachel Edens, Assistant Dean and Advisor to First Generation and Low Income StudentsDean Rachel Edens (she, her, hers) serves as the Assistant Dean and Advisor to Black Students. Dean Rachel joined the OPAL team in 2015 as a Program Coordinator for Academic Engagement and Success. Before coming to Dartmouth, Rachel was Director of the Center for Civic Advancement at Tusculum College. She holds a Master's Degree in Public Administration from East Tennessee State University and a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a minor in African-American Studies from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also is an adjunct professor at Community College of Vermont where she teaches Introduction to College Studies, First Year Seminars, and various courses on social justice and global equity. As a Black woman hailing from the American South, Rachel's undergraduate experience included being First Generation and Low Income, bookish, nerdy, and awkward (*she sends an eternal shout out to Issa Rae). She is committed to honoring and celebrating the many intersections of identities of Blackness and is firm in maintaining that there is no one way to have a "Black Experience".
Dean Rachel has trained students, faculty, staff and community members in various settings since 2010, and presents widely on topics pertaining to the Black-identified community- from DuBois, to Beyonce, to #BlackLivesMatter. She is dedicated to advocating for the success of students of African descent, across the Diaspora. Among her many professional affiliations, Dean Rachel is a member of African-American Women in Higher Education- New England and was the keynote speaker for New England College's inaugural Black History Month Celebration in 2016. In 2017 she was awarded Dartmouth's Lorna C. Hill, '73 Award for Black Faculty/ Staff Engagement.

She's focused on addressing issues of food scarcity, financial insecurity, social and cultural capital, and other barriers to educational attainment and personal achievement.

Dean Rachel loves getting to know students, so feel free to drop by her office in Collis 211f. She is also available by appointment.

Key Programs


The FGLI Welcome is just one of OPAL's socials and community welcome events during Fall term orientation.

First Generation Mentoring Program

This program pairs incoming and current First Gen students with a Dartmouth faculty or staff member who is among the first in their families to go to college. Learn more by visiting the OPAL Mentoring page.


In collaboration with partner offices and student organizations, FGLI Advising offers workshops on financial literacy, FAFSA renewal, building relationships with faculty, and professional development.

Winter Interim Programs and Meal Assistance

FGLI Advising, International Student Advising, and the Director of FYSEP coordinate social programs and provide meal assistance to students on financial aid who reside on campus during the break between the Fall and Winter terms.

First Generation Commencement Celebration

We welcome graduating students and their families to gather and celebrate the completion of their undergraduate degree and their contributions to the Dartmouth community. This reception is just one of OPAL's graduation and awards ceremonies.

FGLI Student Organizations

There are a total of 150+ student organizations on Dartmouth's campus! You can browse through culture specific organizations, performance groups, issue awareness groups, pre-professional groups and more by visiting Dartmouth OrgSync.

Dartmouth Quest for Socioeconomic Engagement

DQSE aims to increase on-campus dialogue and awareness about socioeconomic issues and to foster a community of students. It initially started as a group of Quest Scholars (now open to all of campus), with the goal of connecting high achieving students with lower income to amazing colleges. Today, we are a discussion group open to all of campus, to remind campus that the socioeconomic gap still exists and is ever present.

Community Specific Campus Resources

Video: Class in the Classroom: Experiences of Low Income Students at Dartmouth College (9 minutes, 39 seconds)

Last Updated: 9/1/17